Proactively Attacking Sex-Trafficking

By Eddie Capparucci, LPC, CSAS, CPCS

Greek mythology tells the story of Hydra, a serpent-like monster with many heads. What was also unique about Hydra is if one of its heads were cut off, two more would grow back in its place. It seems like that’s the way it has become with sex-trafficking these days.

hydra
Courtesy of mojobob.com

After a tremendous public outcry, in 2018 Backpage.com was seized by federal authorities and the owners of the website were indicted on federal charges of facilitating prostitution and money laundering. It was a significant victory for those advocating against sex trafficking.

But this modern-day Hydra also has many heads. And as quickly as Backpage.com was put out of business there springs up Skip the Games, which portrays itself as a dating site but is nothing more than a front for promoting prostitution.

In recent months, a police task force in the Leigh Valley area of Pennsylvania has been cracking down on individuals who advertise on Skip the Games. Its efforts have netted numerous arrests, and that’s encouraging news. However, what police officials are discovering as they interview the women arrested is a vast majority of these ladies were forced into selling their bodies to strangers. Continue reading “Proactively Attacking Sex-Trafficking”

A Journey of the Heart

A client of mine who is working hard to manage his sexual addiction shared with me a poem he wrote after reading various verses in the Book of Matthew.  As he read, he felt God was speaking to him about his journey and what he has learned about himself and his addiction. 

As you read, you will see he has spent a great deal of time in self-reflection, reawaking painful memories he had buried to protect himself. I believe it is this type of insight and courage that is at the core of learning how to manage your sexual/pornography addiction.  You also will see that he has used these new insights to understand how much he is loved by his Heavenly Father. I hope this simple, yet powerful poem inspires those of you who are struggling. man-on-long-winding-country-road-quote-a-journey-of-a-thousand-miles-begins-with-just-one-step-elaine-plesser

What I have seen with my eyes

I’ve seen the fear of my childish mind, afraid of the pending night sleep and the nightmares that await me 

I’ve seen the eyes of an angry father, burdened by his past and an unhappy life 

I’ve seen the eyes of a hurting mother, begging for a husbands love and tormented by the loss of her mother 

I’ve seen beauty twisted at an early age, a seed that would corrupt my heart 

I’ve seen bullying up front and the isolation of feeling no good 

I’ve seen the divorce of my parents and the resulting shame and hatred 

I’ve seen a failed marriage and a dream that died 

I’ve seen the desperation of myself wondering where I would end up

But I’ve seen Light

I’ve seen a light that peaks out of the darkness 

I’ve seen a love given to an undeserving me

I’ve seen grace, an introduction to the Heavenly King

I’ve seen the love poured out from a Father, who gave His son for me 

I’ve seen beauty restored by a God who breaks chains 

I’ve seen dreams of being born from a Father, who never let them die within me 

I’ve seen faithfulness from a Savior when I had given up hope 

I’ve seen a promise at the beginning from a God that always follows through

I’ve seen the heart of Jesus

4 Things to Determine If You Can Trust Your Sex-Addicted Spouse

By Eddie Capparucci, LPC, CSAS, CPCS

It is one of the most common questions a spouse will ask during a couples’ first counseling session when a sex addiction has been discovered. “How will I know when I will be able to trust him again”?

It’s a great question because at the core of the couples’ issues is the broke bond of trust. Sex-addicted partners:

  • Violate their commitment, to be honest, and faithful.
  • Drive a wedge in the relationship that feels like the size of the Grand Canyon.
  • Create a sense of hopelessness that leaves the other feeling numbed and confused.  Breaking Heart

Ask any partner who has been betrayed sexually and they will tell you, while the infidelity is like a punch in the gut, the worst part is the dishonesty and lying. While they hate being cheated upon they detest the lack of integrity their partner displays in their attempts to cover their tracks. That is why at some point, the focus on re-building trust is as critical as helping the sex-addicted partner manage the addiction itself.

So how can a betrayed partner start to become comfortable and regain a sense of confidence that their sex-addicted spouse is safe? Let’s examine four key factors to look for to determine if your spouse is becoming trustworthy.

  1. He is committed to his recovery

Of course, this is the one number key to not only learning to manage a sexual addiction but to begin the process of rebuilding a tattered relationship. A sex addict must demonstrate dedication to the game plan that has been created to assist them in breaking the bondage of secrecy and betrayal. I have seen partners who dive in and go beyond what is asked of them in recovery. I also have witnessed spouses who barely scratch the surface in doing the work that is required of them. When this happens, it is incredibly disheartening to the wounded spouse.

If your spouse is following a treatment regimen and sharing with you his progress, then have hope better days await both of you.

  1. He doesn’t shut you down when you vent

One of the first things I will tell a husband who has abused sex is that his wife has a barrel of rocks and she will be throwing them your way for the next 12-24 months. The ability for a woman to properly grieve the betrayal of the relationship is critical in order for there to be a chance for the relationship to move ahead.

But some men struggle when their grieving wives are throwing rocks. They become defensive and attempt to shut down the conversation. However, this is a grave mistake. When a woman is not given an opportunity to grieve she will continue to sit on those emotions and learn how to express them in other ways including perhaps being passive aggressive. As I tell men, when she grieves, she is healing. Let her grieve.

You can start to sense your spouse is getting better when they can sit with you in your pain. This demonstrates they understand the extent of your anguish and are committed to helping you get to a better emotional place.

  1. He starts to develop and engage in healthy communities

Clinical studies have demonstrated a critical key to recovering from sex addiction is participating in a healthy community. Yet, it’s the most significant pushback we receive from our sex addiction clients. In their intense shame and embarrassment, it would be easier to get them to agree to walk a tightrope across two New York City skyscrapers than attend a recovery group meeting. Men who refuse to participate in a support group are playing Russian roulette with their recovery. The lone wolf fails.

As the wounded spouse, if you see your husband is attending a support group; working with a sponsor and engaging in a men’s group, you should feel comfortable that he is learning how to step outside of his negative comfort zone. Establishing authentic relationships with others will help him maintain accountability, which for you and your relationship is a significant win.

  1. He demonstrates the ability to attach with you emotionally

A man struggling with sexual addiction is confused about intimacy. Somewhere along the line, they confused physical intimacy for emotional intimacy. They have an easier time connecting physical, and therefore their emphasis is on sexual relations.

When you find your spouse being able to identify and express emotions, or showing signs of being open and vulnerable, you know he is on the right track of recovery. Sexual addiction is an intimacy disorder, and the course of treatment is designed to broaden the addict’s view of healthy intimacy to include an emotional connection.

An addict who is committed to recovery; supports his wife’s grieving; engages in a healthy community and begins to identify and express deeper emotions is an individual who is on the right path for recovery.

 

 

4 Reasons Why Women Are Not Sex Objects

By Eddie Capparucci, LPC, CSAS, CPCS

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of objectifying is as follows:  “to treat someone as an object rather than as a person.”

Now think for a moment if people started looking, referring and treating you like an object. How do you believe you would feel? Insulted? Demeaned? Dishonored? Befouled? Humiliated? Tarnish?  Women-Objectification

How about outright pissed? You know you would be. So why then is it cool for us men to look upon women as playthings created merely for our own gratification? This type of behavior rings with an air of superiority, which we have no right to claim.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28 ESV

There is no mistaking men and women are different. However, they also are seen as equal in God’s eyes. And if the Creator sees them that way how can we not? There are many reasons why women should not be treated as sex objects. Let’s take a look at 4.

  1. She is a Princess of the King

We’re asking for trouble because we are messing with God’s daughters. Wow, how stupid are we? We are taking the King’s princesses and reducing them to nothing more than toys. How in the world could we never believe that is ok?

We are commanded to be respectful and loving of others – both men and women. However, there is nothing loving about objectifying more than half of the world’s population. We must elect to treat women in a Christ-like manner and provide them with the respect and dignity they deserve as children of God.

  1. She’s Entitled to be Feminine

One way men justify their objectification of women is based on how some dress. But there is nothing wrong with women expressing their femininity and wanting to feel pretty. They are entitled to experience those feelings without having to worry about men objectifying them. Instead, we should learn to admire and directly observe a woman’s beauty instead of lusting after it. They should not need to wrap their bodies in burlap because we lack control over our lust.

  1. She has a Brain

Women are not inanimate. They breathe, walk, talk and think. They have a brain. So, what gives men the impression women are playthings to use and discard? Over time women have demonstrated their equality on many levels. They serve in leadership roles in churches, universities, corporations, and heads of state in many countries. Yet, we prefer to view them as body parts instead of appreciating the whole person.

“Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” Romans 12:10

  1. She Deserves Better

Life is difficult. As men we face enormous pressures every day whether it’s stress with our jobs; distension in our families; conflicts within our church; the lack of me-time; or a battling lust. Well, women face similar concerns and worries. They often juggle multiple tasks as a housewife, mother, employee, friend, and daughter. And with each of these hats come challenges and obligations.

But nowhere on that list of duties is the role of sex object. They deserve better than that of men. If she can stand toe-to-toe with men and manage the day-to-day responsibilities and challenges that the world throws at her, shouldn’t she be treated with the utmost respect? The short answer is yes – because she deserves better. It is our obligation as men to view her through different lenses that don’t focus on her sexuality but instead on her personhood. To treat her as Christ treated all women.

4th Annual ‘No Lust For Lent’ Initiative

By Eddie Capparucci, LPC, CSAS, CPCS

Men, once again it’s time to make a real sacrifice. Are you done talking about making changes regarding your sexual struggles? Are you tired of the repeated failures? If so, then join the crusade and pledge to learn to successfully manage your pornography and sexual addiction.

Wednesday, March 6 kicks off our fourth annual “No Lust for Lent” crusade, where men are asked to stop watching pornography and/or engaging in destructive sexual behaviors. Efforts in the past three years have been met with great enthusiasm and successful outcomes.  overcoming-lust-logo-435x150

“I decided last year to try and stop watching porn and masturbating,” said Carl, a 35-year-old who is married with two children. “Midway through the 40 days I decided to start working with a sex-addiction counselor and I later joined a support group. It was a great decision.”

“I had struggled with porn since I was 10,” said Alex who is a senior in college. “Last year I saw this on Twitter and decided to give it a try. It was great, and I will be praying throughout Lent that other men join this effort and free themselves of pornography.”

Removing lust from our lives allows us to experience freedom from shame and guilt that affects our self-worth. It also helps us to stop hurting those we love who feel betrayed by our actions.

“Everyday I see the consequences that result from a sexual and pornography addiction,” says Eddie Capparucci, a certified sexual addiction counselor with a private practice in Marietta, GA. “It not only brings shame to the men who engage in the behaviors but destroys relationships; ruins careers; and corrupts children by teaching them to objectify and degrade women. Some men believe their addiction is a life sentence, but that is not the way it has to be.

“The Give Up Lust for Lent Crusade is an excellent stepping stone to get men on the right track of recovery,” he continued. “There are many programs and services available to help men and their families who have been impacted by the addiction. In developing and implementing a well-prepared treatment plan, men can learn to manage their addiction successfully. But the first step is taking action.”

Men and women are being asked to show their support for “No Lust for Lent” by commenting on Twitter using the #NoLustForLent hashtag.

Christian pastors are also encouraged to ask their church members to participate in supporting the “No Lust for Lent” Crusade by speaking from the pulpit about the destruction of pornography.

 

 

 

The Tragic Shame Game

The Tragic Shame Game

By Eddie Capparucci, LPC, CSAS, CPCS

“God can’t possibly love someone like me.” I hear statements like this at least once a week in my counseling practice and it makes me very sad. Those words come from Christians who believe God cannot and will not accept them because of their sinful nature.

But they could not be more wrong. What they’re doing is projecting the negative feelings they have about themselves onto God. What they are really dealing with is shame.Shame Label Cover

Satan came up with a great emotional mind-bender when he invented shame. He knew it would be one of the most powerful tools he could use to keep us separated from God and others. He uses our mistakes, regrets and past traumas to generate on-going emotional and mental distress within us. He knows shame is the most toxic of all emotions and can leave Christians feeling hopeless and isolated.

But that is not the life God envisioned for us. His desire is for us to live an abundant life in which we experience peace and joy despite whatever circumstances we are facing. However, shame will prevent us from achieving His desires and in fact, will drive us away from Him.

But there is an antidote to our shame. It is called Grace. Through His remarkable Grace, we can be free from the darkness of shame and understand God takes our past and puts it in the past. You see, God is not looking backward, He is looking forward.

But sometimes simply having the insight God loves and accepts us unconditionally is not enough to break free from the shame we feel. We still want to run away and hide. But you can’t hide from God. He sees our brokenness and understands it causes us shame. Let’s look at Psalm 139 for the truth.

“If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me, and the light become night around me, even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you” (Psalm 139: 11-12 NIV).

God tries to explain to us – “do not be afraid to approach Me with your shame. You try to keep it in the dark away from Me, but that is not possible because I know your shame and I will bring it into the light. Bring your shame to me, not so that I can condemn you, but so that I can remove it from you”.

This is a powerful message for those who believe God can never accept them because of their sinful behaviors. But once again, the idea that God is unapproachable and uncaring is nothing more than Satan’s lies designed to drive a wedge between God and us. What we need to believe is He accepts us and loves us unconditionally despite our brokenness and sinful behavior.

Learn more about shame and how it impacts our relationship with God and others, as well as it’s effect on our destructive behaviors in the book entitled: Removing Your Shame Label: Learning to Break From Shame and Feel God’s Love. Order your copy today at: Amazon.com or http://www.BarnesandNoble.com

Are You Chasing Your Spouse?

By Eddie Capparucci, LPC, CSAS, CPCS

The romantic stage of a relationship lasts an average of 12-24 months. And once it passes maintaining a strong emotional connection can be difficult for most married couples. The busyness of life, the addition of children and simply being too inwardly focused are all factors that contribute to couples drifting apart emotionally. But there is another factor that comes into play when we discuss the changing dynamics of a relationship between couples. They tend to take each other for granted.  700-00609918

We begin to simply “expect” our spouse will always be available to serve without needing to be appreciated for the value they bring to the relationship. Over time, these couples find themselves walking through marriage on parallel paths. They may engage engulf themselves in work; make the kids the number one priority in the household; involve themselves in excessive activities like computer surfing, gaming, and hobbies that allow them to avoid engaging with their partner on an emotionally intimate level.

But as time passes, one or both individuals start to become discontent with the relationship and feel there is something missing. To correct this negative trend, they need to start chasing each other. Chasing is a process that consists of three steps.

  1. Put Aside Your Fears. As couples stop attempting to engage with each other on an emotional level fear is established. This is the fear of “being rejected” should they try to re-engage with their spouse. The rejection fear develops over time as individuals make attempts to engage but find themselves ignored or dismissed. After a while, they just stop trying to engage. But that is exactly where Satan wants you. While he understands he may not be able to destroy your marriage, he can certainly attempt to make it a miserable one. Drop the fear and take a chance.
  2. The Chase. Make daily efforts to genuinely engage with your spouse. For 10 to 15 minutes, take the focus off of yourself or the kids and place it solely on your partner and what is going on in his/her life. You also can: send cute and funny text messages; leave a romantic card on their pillow; buy inexpensive gifts; offer to do them a favor. The key is to generate a new perception in your spouse’s mind that you are actively thinking about them.
  3. Allow Yourself to Get Caught. If your spouse is making an effort to chase you, slow down enough to get caught. Don’t bush them aside by saying how busy you are but instead notice the energy they are putting into the relationship. Getting caught doesn’t take much effort – what it takes is being aware that you’re being chased.

Behind The Canvas

By Eddie Capparucci, LPC, CCSAS, CPCS

It is a question I get at least once a week from a client in my counseling practice, “why did God allow this to happen to me?”. And my answer is always based on my understanding of Scripture, which includes, but is not limited to:

  • We live in a fallen world where we experience heartache and pain due to injustice, evil, disease and natural disasters (Rom. 8:22)
  • Satan is alive and well and busy trying to turn us away from God (Eph. 6:10-12)
  • We have free will. And those people with hardened and evil hearts use it to cause emotional, mental and physical pain to others (Matt. 15:19)

Usually, that is not enough to ease the distress an individual is suffering. And I can understand that. However, I do believe the words of the Apostle Paul who tells us:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Rom. 8:28

canvas

What is troubling for us is we can’t see the work God is doing as we are dealing with our storms. In fact, I heard a quote once, I can’t remember who said it, or the exact words, so I will paraphrase.

God is busy creating a beautiful painting of your life that is filled with love and hope. It is unlike any piece of art you have ever seen. However, you can’t see what He’s creating at this moment, because you are standing behind the canvas.

That is a fantastic word picture used to accurately describe the parallel of God at work while we are suffering. So when do we get to see what’s on the other side of the canvas? In His time. That could be tomorrow, next year, or in the world to come. We don’t know.

But this I am sure of, for those who have suffered greatly in this lifetime and remained faithful to God, He has eternity to make it up to them.

Two Lies Satan Uses to Enhance Shame

By Eddie Capparucci, LPC, CSAS, CPCS

“It’s pretty difficult to believe God loves and accepts you after you wake up in a strange man’s apartment with a massive hangover,” said Carole, a 31-year-old single, school teacher. “I’m acting in a way God does not approve, so how do I approach Him when I need His help? I just can’t bring myself to be honest and contrite with Him because I’m so ashamed of the things I am doing to degrade my body.”

Like Carole, many Christians who engage in sinful behaviors find it difficult to take the actions necessary to build a relationship with Jesus. At the core of our struggles is the over-powering emotion of shame. Shame serves as a barrier between us and our Lord and Savior and it limits our ability to engage in meaningful prayer, scripture reading, meditation, and Christian community.

Satan Liar “It’s difficult to pray to someone who you believe is judging you as a failure,” Carole continued. “I desperately want to reach out to feel His comfort, but I can’t bring myself to do it. I believe He wants nothing to do with me.”

For Christians like Carole, it’s difficult to read about and comprehend God’s unfailing love when you believe your sinful patterns disqualify you from His love. It’s also challenging to interact with Christian brothers and sisters when you feel unworthy to be around them.

Continue reading “Two Lies Satan Uses to Enhance Shame”

Why Can’t You Stop Porn?

By Eddie Capparucci, LPC, CSAS, CPCS

It’s a question I hear quite often from clients, “why can’t I stop looking at porn?”. And I tell them all the same thing. They have not learned to feel their emotions.

I realize that sounds a bit odd, but I assure you at the heart of a man addicted to porn is a man whose heart has trouble feeling. Our struggle with pornography is really the pursuit of emotional intimacy. The problem is most men don’t know that. In fact, they wouldn’t know emotional intimacy if it hit them in the face.  emotions

In my clinical practice, 9 out of 10 men who present with a pornography addiction also have an extremely low emotional IQ. What this means is three-fold:

  • They can tell you when they are angry, sad, happy or afraid. These are called secondary emotions. However, they struggle to identify their primary or true emotions. For example, what are you really feeling when you say you’re angry?
  • If they can identify what they are truly feeling (primary emotions), they can’t articulate them in a constructive manner. They struggle to share and be vulnerable with others.
  • But worse of all, they can’t determine what others are feeling beyond secondary emotions. They lack the ability to empathize and seek out additional information from others who are expressing their emotions. Instead, they want to shut down the individual, fix their problem, or runaway.

Beyond the sex/porn addiction, a man’s low emotional IQ it’s the single largest complain women have about the men in their lives. They are emotionally disconnected. We don’t allow ourselves to feel emotions. And as I tell my clients: “you need to feel to heal”.

If you want to manage your pornography addiction, make increasing your emotional IQ part of your recovery process.